Cops justify reaction to student protesters
Cape Town - Police said the conduct of its officers inside and outside Parliament was above board during Wednesday’s chaotic scenes in the CBD which saw members of public order policing engage in running battles with protesting students.
“We are satisfied with the manner in which the situation was managed by police outside Parliament today (on Wednesday), despite being constantly provoked by the students,” said police spokesman Vishnu Naidoo said in a statement.
“Further criminal action against those that may have transgressed the law will be considered. Thus far 30 students have been arrested in regards to the incident outside Parliament and they are likely to face charges including trespassing and public violence.”
The statement came as students were bringing an application on Wednesday in the Western Cape High Court to interdict the SA Police service from “infringing on their rights to peaceful protest”.
The application was postponed and would be heard at 8am on Thursday morning.
SAPS was opposing the application, and are expected to argue the students’ breach of Parliamentary security made it an illegal act.
In his statement, Naidoo said the The National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (Natjoints), which was made up of police and various other government departments, had been activated to deal with the protests over increasing student fees nationally.
“Therefore, the Natjoints has directed that there be a presence of security force personnel, public order police in particular, to ensure that the constitutional rights of all are protected,” Naidoo said.
“The Joints has noted that – by and large – violence has not been part and parcel of these protests. However, the manner in which some students forced their way into Parliament in Cape Town today (Wednesday) and the alleged damaging of a motor vehicle/s nearby are a cause for concern.”
Members of SAPS public order policing units would be deployed at all affected tertiary instituions.
“The security force deployment around the affected tertiary institutions is informed by the need to maintain law and order and to ensure that those who are not taking part in these protests are able to go about their business without any fear of intimidation or reprisals,” said Naidoo.
“The Public Order Policing members have been explicitly instructed not to use unnecessary force, as in all deployments.”